Friday, May 29, 2009

Perito Moreno Glacier

A few times during my travels I am overwhelmed by what I find. Even though I know where I am going and what I am going to see, I find myself not prepared for what I encounter. During my recent travels to Argentina I found myself in this situation when I first arrived at the Perito Moreno Glacier near the city of Calafate. I have seen glaciers previously in Iceland, Alaska, Mongolia and Chile but not of the magnitude and scenery of this one. It is located at the Glaciers National Park where there are other glaciers but Perito Moreno is the master. It is about 3 miles wide and the ice walls about 200 feet high. The ice mass advances about 6 feet per day and is one of the few glaciers that is still advancing; it has not been told about the green house effect yet. I took a boat tour and got real close to the ice wall but at a safe distance. The walls are shedding blocks of ice continuously and when they fall into the water, create great waves and noise. The noise sounds as the crack of a high powered rifle but by the time you hear it, the block of ice is already fallen. One is able to photograph the splash and waves created by the fallen block of ice but it is very difficult to capture one falling.

This photo was taken from the boat and gives a good perspective of the ice wall height and its blue color. But there is no image that can capture all the hue of blues visible to the eye. In some areas the ice seem fluorescent.
I mentioned the intense sounds before but these are heard very frequent also due to the moving ice blocks. There were hikers over the glacier but they do not get into areas as the ones to the right. I would be really wonderful to get inside of those spaces in between the spikes of blue ice.

This image shows a narrow area between the glacier and a point of land of the Peninsula de Magallanes. At times the glacier grows an blocks the southern branch of the Lago Argentino. This does not happens every year but when it does, thousands of tourists arrive to see the collapse of the bridge due to the pressure of the water rising in the bloked lake. This view is from the southern branch of the Lago Argentino looking north.

This view gives a panoramic view of the whole glacier and the mountains are to the West. You can see the tree leaves changing into red and yellows since I was there in the fall. The seasons are reversed from the northen to the southern hemispheres.
The park has a brand new system of elevated metal trails that provide for easy walking and great views. These trails lead to various vantage points to just observe the spectacle, watch for birds or hunting for the opportunity to see the glacier calving.

This image was taken with a 16 mm lens set at a 45 degrees angle to get the diagonal of a full frame digital camera. Then I Photoshop it and cropped it to get the widest dimension cutting off the corners. No image of this place can really capture its magnificence.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Birds from the End of the World Part Two.

The dolphin gull with the red bill was the first bird that I shot as soon as I got out of the plane in Ushuaia, the most uncooperative one, he was sitting on a rock in the shore line and as I turned around to get a profile of him, he will turn too.

In the previous blog, I mentioned the kelp goose, this is the male one, all beautiful white; maybe great camouflage for the snow but why is he white all year round? There also some all white seagulls that looked as pidgeons, I was not able to get a
decent image of them to post.

The Southern Lapwing is the most beautiful bird that I was able to photograph in Ushuaia. Some were some congregated in small groups along the shoreline or just by themselves resting with one leg under a wing. Since it was the beginning of the winter there, I assume that they were starting to migrate up north. Here in the northern hemisphere we refer to the birds going south; as the seasons are reversed, the patterns of migration are also reversed.
This is an image of the same species of plover but this one was in the field picking up insects among the grass. Both were very nervous of my presence and watched all my movements.

Moving a bit north and closer to Buenos Aires the birds begin to look more like those in the south of the United States. This a croaking ground dove and is very abundant and always in pairs. I did not hear them calling.

And the story again repeats itself, no doubt it looks like one of our mockingbirds and their behavior is similar and very common in urban areas. It also reminds me of the mockingbirds in the Galapagos Islands. There these birds are so tame that will come and sit on your hat or camera tripod.

This monk parakeet I photographed in one of the numerous parks in the city of Buenos Aires. I assumed that this species was introduced just as the house sparrows and starlings were here in the United Statesbut they are endemic do Argentina. They are numerous and fly in large flocks when they decide to move from an area with a loud cacophony of calls. They were really very entertaining and will feed on anything they can get.

These plush-crested jays are related to our blue jays and exhibit very similar behavior been aggressive and very vocal. Very tame and unafraid of humans an if you have some bread or nuts will eat out of your hands. They hang around in large groups. They seem to come out of nowhere and disappear again in unison.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birds from the End of the World Part One.

Ushuia at the southern most tip of Argentina is the closest city to the Antarctic continent. I spent a few days there of rain, snow, ice and cold with a few rays of sun. Photographing was trying due to many factors including lack of light so I was shooting mostly at ISO 400 and shutter speeds between 1/50 to 1/125 with a zoom lens at 400 mm which has an aperture of f 5.6. I was fortunate to get a few shots of birds that I have never seen before. So I will not elaborate much as to their identification. This kingfisher I photographed at the national park near Ushuaia. This bird was very tame for a kingfisher, I was able to approach him within 30 feet. and he just dived from the branch into the lake below catching small fishes. I did get a few shots with a life fish in the bill but due to the low light they were blurred.

There are a few geese that are unique to this area and the one to the right is the flightless steamerduck, notice the size of the wings. These were relatively tame and easy to approach and as usual the male was the better looking of the two.

This goose is very common in the area and reminds me of a barnacle goose but is bigger and brownish in color. It is know as the kelp goose. This a female, the male is totally white and they are usually found together.

I am sure that you have seen
caracaras all have seen caracaras, these are really opportunistics and feed in anything they can get. Very colorful birds and probably the most abundant in this area.) Although they are supposed to be tropical birds' no one told them.

I will stop at this time and continue soon with more images of the wildlife of the area.